"Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish!" Ephesians 2:8
I just spent a week at a place called the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, North Carolina. In 2017 it was recognized as being one of the top five organizations for leadership development in the world. It is a humbling experience to be chosen to participate in the Reynolds Program in Church Leadership which is a collaborative work between the Western North Carolina Conference Foundation and the Center for Creative Leadership. I was there with 24 clergy colleagues from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, North Georgia, and four of us from Florida. It is a year long program and this was the first gathering. This whole program was the idea of a businessman name Royce Reynolds. Mr. Reynolds wanted clergy in The United Methodist Church to be the best leaders possible. For the past 19 years the program has grown to cover five conferences, has graduated almost 500 clergy, and invested almost $3.8 million in the process. It was all the idea of one man, but the impact has been far reaching.
As I was participating this week, and thinking about being back with you on Sunday, I couldn't help but be reminded of the Scripture above. Paul writes to remind the church at Ephesus that it's not their idea. They are not as clever as they were beginning to think they were. The whole salvation thing was God's idea from start to finish. It was out of God's immense love for humanity that the plan was designed. The reality is that without God's plan we are stuck dead to rights in our sin without a way out. God knew that and decided to do something about it. John 3:16 tells us the why and the how of God's plan. God loved us so much that God sent Jesus, God's one and only Son, to save us. It was all God's idea and we are not the major player, God is through Jesus Christ the Son. It was all God's idea.
The thing is ... if you have been a part of church for even a little bit you know this. So you may be asking, "Why are you talking about this again?" I am glad you asked! I will answer with a question - Do you treasure this gift that God has given you? This gift of salvation is something to be treasured. It is not something we can take credit for or brag about. It is something we should hold as a divine treasure to which nothing can compare. Yet, often times I believe we take this amazing gift of God for granted. Considering ourselves saved and that's it. It's done. That's our idea, not God's. We are to treasure God's gift of salvation to us through Jesus Christ the Son more than anything else.
Being a part of the body of Christ, the church, is the way we live out God's gift of salvation together. This week we will conclude our series I Am SAUMC with a discussion about treasuring our part in the body of Christ. We are to unify, sacrifice, pray, and treasure as members of the body of Christ. I can't wait to see you in church.